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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Assurex Health and CAMH awarded $6 million grant from Genome Canada to study benefits of genetic testing to guide mental health medication decisions

This announcement was issued by Assurex Health

Schizophrenia Patients Included for First Time in Study of This Type

Mason, OH– October 16, 2014 - Assurex Health and Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) today announced they have received a $6 million grant from Genome Canada, an agency of the Canadian government, to study the benefits of genetic testing to guide medication decisions for patients with depression or schizophrenia.

The clinical trial is the first to evaluate Canadian patients, including patients with schizophrenia, using personalized decision guidance provided by the GeneSight® Psychotropic test, developed by Assurex Health in Mason, Ohio.  The grant funds a joint Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) to be managed by CAMH and Assurex Health, with administrative and programmatic support from the Ontario Genomic Institute.

GeneSight technology is based on combinatorial pharmacogenomics (CPGxTM),the study of how variations in multiple genes influence an individual’s response to medications, as well as evidence-based medicine and clinical pharmacology.  The technology analyzes response to medicines commonly prescribed to treat depression and schizophrenia, as well as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and other behavioral health conditions.

Three Year Study to Examine Clinical Outcomes, Cost Benefits
"Genome Canada is pleased to support this partnership that will accelerate the translation of tailored treatments for mental health conditions, avoiding adverse drug reactions. This in turn will reduce burden and cost to Canada's health care system,” said Dr. Pierre Meulien, President and CEO of Genome Canada. 

The study, “Clinical Utility and Enhancements of a Pharmacogenomic Decision Support Tool for Mental Health Patients,” will be funded over three years. Assurex Health and CAMH investigators, working with clinicians from the greater Toronto area, will conduct a 12week randomized and blinded study with Canadian patients diagnosed with depression or schizophrenia. Healthcare providers of patients in both disease categories for whom prior prescription drug treatment has failed will receive personalized guidance for medication selection and dosing using the GeneSight Psychotropic test.

“The study will also evaluate the ability of genetic variants discovered at CAMH to predict important side effects of psychiatric medications, and will collect economic data on how testing impacts health care costs,” said C. Anthony Altar, PhD, Senior Vice President, Neurosciences of Assurex Health and co-principal investigator on the grant. “We will look at how prescribing more appropriate medications specifically suited to individual patient’s genetics correlates to clinical outcomes and cost benefits.”

Clinical improvements will be compared among three groups: patients whose healthcare providers receive the GeneSight Psychotropic report, patients whose healthcare providers receive a variation of the GeneSight report enhanced with genetic variants discovered at CAMH, and patients who are treated as usual, without the benefit of guidance by either of the GeneSight tests.

“The new study, generously supported by the GAPP award, will provide a clear picture of how pharmacogenomic medication guidance may help Canadian patients, and will enhance the science behind tests like GeneSight,” said Dr. James L. Kennedy, Director of Molecular Science in CAMH’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and co-principal investigator on the grant.

Multiple clinical studies published in peer-reviewed journals in the U.S. have demonstrated the clinical validity, utility, and economic benefits of the GeneSight test in making decisions about treating patients with major depression, compared with treatment as usual.[i],[ii]This strong data is driving growing reimbursement coverage.

Study Conducted at 10 Sites with 1,200 Patients
This is the first clinical study of this type conducted in Canada. The trial will be conducted at 10 sites throughout Ontario, primarily in Toronto, and will include 1,200 patients.

In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem.[iii] Mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death in Canada.[iv] The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year. This includes health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life.[v]

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About CAMH
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, and one of the world’s leading research centers in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. ​​

About Assurex Health 
Assurex Health is the leading personalized medicine company providing industry-leading treatment decision support to clinicians for behavioralhealth and chronic pain conditions. Assurex Health’s proprietary technology is based on combinatorial pharmacogenomics (CPGxTM) – the study of how variations in multiple genes influence an individual’s response to medications – as well as evidence-based medicine and clinical pharmacology.  Assurex Health has licensed patented technology from Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who remain technology collaborators. For more information, visit

About GeneSight
GeneSight helps health care providers make behavioralhealth and chronic pain treatment decisions based on a patient’s unique genetic makeup.  GeneSight is the only neuropsychiatric pharmacogenomic test validated in multiple, peer-reviewed, published clinical studies. GeneSight analyzes over 785,000 permutations of available medications based on an individual’s genetic profile, and presents the results in an easy to read, actionable, color-coded report typically available 36 hours after Assurex Health receives a patient's cheek swab. Learn more at


Sarah DeDiemar, Assurex Health
(513) 701-5162                                 

Cheryl Byrne, Rick Miller Communications
(978) 837-0371                                                                     

[i] Hall-Flavin DK, Winner JG, Allen JD, Carhart JM, Proctor B, Snyder KA, Drews MS, Eisterhold LL, Geske J, Mrazek DA. Utility of integrated pharmacogenomic testing to support the treatment of major depressive disorder in a psychiatric outpatient setting.Pharmacogenetics and Genomics. 2013;23(10):535-548.

[ii]Winner JG, Carhart JM, Altar CA, Allen JD, Dechairo BM. A prospective, randomized double-blind study assessing the clinical impact of integrated pharmacogenomic testing for major depressive disorder. Discovery Med. 2013;16(89): 219-227.

[iii]Smetanin et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011-2041.

[iv]Institute of Health Economics (2008). How Much Should We Spend on Mental Health?

[v]Dewa et al (2008). A New Population-Based Measure of the Burden of Mental Illness in Canada.

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